How good/bad are different countries at turning carbon emissions into development?

One result of the doughnut economics discussion is that we need to think much more about the carbon efficiency of development. So which countries are getting the best return on rising carbon emissions, in terms of life expectancy and per capita income?

Here are two animated graphics of 13 country trajectories. The thirteen major countries comprise more than half of the world’s population and carbon emissions. Territorial emission trajectories are green; trade-adjusted emissions (recognizing that if you import something to consume, that that should count as an emission) allowing for carbon are blue, contrasted with the global trend fit curves (dotted lines) for consumption-based carbon in 1990 and 2005. You can freeze, go back and forward etc to get a better grip of what is going on.

First life expectancy v carbon emissions

Next income per capita v carbon emissions

What do they show?
• Countries vary a whole lot in their pathways.
• Some are good and getting better at creating good development outcomes while not emitting much.
• Some are bad and getting worse, especially when we consider trade in embodied emissions.
• It’s getting easier to get longer lives for less.
• It’s currently apparently NOT possible to have long life and low emissions with high incomes.

[h/t Timmons Roberts. c/o Tim Gore]

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Comments

3 Responses to “How good/bad are different countries at turning carbon emissions into development?”
  1. I find this fascinating, thanks! But am struggling a bit with the graphs (probably just being thick and also a bit shortsighted) and finding it hard to work out exactly what is going on. Would it be possible to get a bit more written analysis, especially on a country by country basis? And is there any analysis for a broader range of development indicators?

  2. Julissa

    One quick note on the top chart – it looks like overall there are only two outliers – South Africa, whose life expectancy dropped not from anything related to carbon emissions but from the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and Russia – where again, emissions levels likely had nothing to do with the falling life expectancy. Seems to me like the takeaway here nothing other than that carbon emissions and life expectancy are increasing most places.

    The bottom chart is a little more interesting, but, again, rising incomes are much more concretely tied to economic policies encouraging growth, a favorable trade climate etc. I would be interested to see a more direct link between, for example, the growth of manufacturing, income growth in manu. heavy regions, and the tie to carbon emissions.

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